Two Vegetable Gardening Commandments

..., and beds full of things going to seed, but I’ve never thought our beds poorly maintained–except in the last two months. So I think Erik just needs a glass of scotch or something tonight.  Just to be factual, we have four vegetable beds. We used to have more ground space where we could plant food, which helped with rotation, but we’ll be doing all our veg growing in our four raised beds from now on out, and dedicating the groun...

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Growing and Preparing Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus)

...ke out of the covering. I once tried to eat an unblanched stem and it was bitter and tough so, in my experience, the blanching is a necessary step. Pullin’ off the stringy bits To prepare it you take the blanched, tender inner stems and pull off the stringy bits on the back, being careful to avoid the sharp edges (did I mention that this is a pain in the ass food?). Chop the stems into two inch strips and drop them into acidified water to...

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Sundiner

...and concentrates the heat of the sun and allows outdoor cooking without fuel or fire. They call it the Sundiner. The technical description is “Solar Energy Grill.” Sundiner is a compact unit, 17-inches square and 6inches tall. Fold-out mirrors are metalized Mylar plastic, supported by polypropylene holders. The mirrors focus the sun’s heat on the lower section of the cabinet, where heat slowly builds up to a maximum of about 450...

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Tomatoes in December

.... And each year the fruit declines in quality. This summer I transplanted two tomato seedlings that sprouted in the yard on their own. One turned out to be the offspring of the Italian red pear tomato I grow every year and the other a somewhat boring but prolific yellow cherry tomato. It’s Christmas and all of these tomatoes are still growing and producing. I’ve got an unintentional food forest started here. One of these days IR...

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Nettle Harvest

...Homegrown Neighbor here: Stinging nettle- Urtica dioica is a both a beloved and hated plant. Yes, it does sting. The stem and leaf edges are covered in stinging hairs. It can be rather painful. But it has been used as a food and medicine plant dating back at least to ancient Rome. Interestingly, if you sting an inflamed or painful area of the body with nettle, it has been shown to decrease the pain. Mr. Homegrown has also written about nettles o...

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Grub

Why start the day with the Wall Street Journal when the real excitement is to be found in periodicals such as Backyard Poultry Magazine? While our broke nation can’t afford missile shields or moon trips anymore, at least it’s comforting to read in the pages of BPM that the citizens of Bonner Springs, Kansas can visit the brand new National Poultry Museum. This month’s issue of BPM also has a fascinating article by Harvey Usse...

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City of LA Shakes Down Community Gardens

...plots. The rental of a 10 by 20 space will go from $25 to $120 a year. In the midst of an economic crisis, when the city should doing everything it can to encourage growing food in the city, we get this. The good news is that, unlike national politics, we can make a difference by getting involved at a local level. I was alerted to this shortsighted fee increase by my friend Stephen Box who is running for city council in district 4. It’s ab...

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Return of Bean Friday! Chickpea, Pasta and Tomato Soup

.... Pour into bowls and dress with lots of fresh grated Parmesan, fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. The cheese makes it extra rich and tasty, but you can also serve it vegan style. —— I’d classify this soup as kid friendly, vegan friendly, and husband friendly. Erik really liked it, and he is often suspicious of soup–he just doesn’t think soup is real food. (I know! He a lunatic.) But the pasta in it f...

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Rules for Eating Wheat

...llergens in modern wheat and researchers are looking at simpler forms of ancient wheat such as Einkorn to see if they have fewer allergens. So what can we do to prevent wheat based black swans? I think we need a wheat equivalent of Michael Pollan’s food rules, so here it goes: Acknowledge our ignorance in the face of the great complexity of nature. Thus, we should be conservative when it comes to plant breeding. Saving seed and developing...

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